Trump Administration, Week 173: Friday, 8 May – Thursday, 14 May 2020 ( Days 1,204-1,210)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 8 May 2020, Day 1,204:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 8 May 2020: Mexican Government Is Hiding Huge Coronavirus Toll, Especially in the Capital, The New York Times, Friday, 8 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 8 May 2020: The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Clears First Home Saliva Test; Pence’s Press Secretary Has Coronavirus, The New York Times, Friday, 8 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 8 May 2020: 5-Year-Old Dies in New York City of Rare Illness Linked to Coronavirus, The New York Times, Friday, 8 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Continue reading Week 173, Friday, 8 May – Thursday, 14 May 2020 (Days 1,204-1,210)

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 8 May 2020: U.S. Jobs Report Shows Clearest Data Yet on Economic Toll, The New York Times, Friday, 8 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 8 May 2020: Roy Horn, part of iconic magician duo, dies of complications from the coronavirus, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Mirian Berger, Mark Berger, Mark Berman, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas, Steven Goff, Michael Brice-Saddler, Hannah Knowles, and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The pandemic’s devastating economic toll came into sharp focus Friday, via grim data about the U.S. workforce: More than 20 million jobs disappeared from payrolls in April — wiping out a decade of gains in a single month as the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent, highest since the Great Depression. Despite that, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 455 points, or 1.9 percent. The three major U.S. indexes ended the week with across-the-board gains. Meanwhile, a member of Vice President Pence’s staff, Katie Miller, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Miller is Pence’s press secretary and wife of senior adviser Stephen Miller. A day earlier, officials said one of President Trump’s personal valets had tested positive.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Roy Horn — one half of the famed magic duo Siegfried & Roy, known for shows with exotic animals — has died of complications from the coronavirus at age 75.
  • Eligible Americans who are still waiting on their $1,200 stimulus payment have until noon on May 13, to use the ‘Get My Payment’ portal to input direct deposit information to avoid having to wait for a check in the mail, the IRS said Friday.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order requiring that all registered voters receive mail ballots for November’s general election. Voters won’t be required to use them, but will not have to choose between safety concerns and voting, he said.
  • The Office of Special Counsel has determined that there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that a former top vaccine official, Rick Bright, was removed from his post last month for retaliatory reasons and plans to recommend that he be reinstated.
  • Florida and Mississippi became the latest states to announce steps toward reopening. To see where your state stands, check out our interactive reopening map.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

U.S. unemployment rate soars to 14.7 percent, the worst since the Depression era, The Washington Post, Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent in April, the highest level since the Great Depression, as many businesses shut down or severely curtailed operations to try to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The Labor Department said 20.5 million people abruptly lost their jobs, wiping out a decade of employment gains in a single month. The speed and magnitude of the loss defies comparison. It is roughly double what the nation experienced during the entire financial crisis from 2007 to 2009.” See also, April Unemployment Rate Rose to a Record 14.7%, The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The April unemployment rate surged to a record 14.7% and payrolls dropped by a historic 20.5 million workers as the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy, wiping out a decade of job gains in a single month. Employment fell sharply in all broad business sectors last month and across all groups of workers, with particularly large increases in unemployment among women, college dropouts and Hispanics. The U.S. jobless rate eclipsed the previous record rate of 10.8% for data tracing back to 1948.” See also, How Bad Is Unemployment? ‘Literally Off the Charts,’ The New York Times, Nelson D. Schwartz, Ben Casselman, and Ella Koeze, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The American economy plunged deeper into crisis last month, losing 20.5 million jobs as the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent, the worst devastation since the Great Depression. The Labor Department’s monthly report on Friday provided the clearest picture yet of the breadth and depth of the economic damage — and how swiftly it spread — as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country. Job losses have encompassed the entire economy, affecting every major industry. Areas like leisure and hospitality had the biggest losses in April, but even health care shed more than a million jobs. Low-wage workers, including many women and members of racial and ethnic minorities, have been hit especially hard. ‘It’s literally off the charts,’ said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. ‘What would typically take months or quarters to play out in a recession happened in a matter of weeks this time.'”

Katie Miller, Mike Pence’s press secretary, tests positive for Coronavirus, Trump says, CNN Politics, Maegan Vazquez, Kaitlan Collins, John Harwood, and Jim Acosta, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Donald Trump confirmed Friday that Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus. Miller is now the second White House staff member known to have tested positive for the coronavirus this week, after one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive on Thursday. ‘She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive,’ Trump said during a meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House. The President said that Miller has not come into contact with him but noted that she has been in contact with Pence. Miller was frequently in contact with members of the press, and the White House is now making more coronavirus testing available to journalists, a White House official told CNN’s Jim Acosta. Katie Miller is married to Trump’s senior adviser, Stephen Miller.” See also, Katie Miller, Pence spokeswoman, tests positive for coronavirus. The diagnosis brings the threat of infection into Trump’s inner circle. Politico, Dan Diamond and Myah Ward, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Katie Miller, a spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to two people with knowledge of Miller’s diagnosis. Miller’s positive diagnosis for Covid-19 puts the potential threat of the infection squarely into the president’s inner circle. Miller serves as the vice president’s top spokesperson, traveling with him frequently and attending meetings by his side. She is also married to another top White House aide and senior adviser, Stephen Miller, who writes the majority of Trump’s speeches and spends copious amounts of time around the president, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.” See also, Trump flouts coronavirus protocols as security experts warn of need to protect Trump from a lethal threat, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Carol D. Leonnig, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump on Friday continued to eschew key public health guidelines from his own administration — meeting with Republican lawmakers and World War II veterans without a face mask — while expressing confidence that he is protected from the coronavirus despite a second White House staffer testing positive this week. The president appeared puzzled that the aide, Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Pence, had contracted the virus ‘out of the blue’ after testing negative several times under a routine White House screening program put in place last month…. Several security officials with executive branch experience said in interviews Friday that the White House has taken a lax and risky approach that, in their view, reflected Trump’s consistent efforts to minimize the threat from the virus. The president has pushed to reopen parts of the country as more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment benefits, upending his plans to tout a strong economy as a core of his reelection message this fall.” See also, Trump plays down coronavirus testing as U.S. falls far short of level scientists say is needed, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Mike DeBonis, and Brady Dennis, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump is increasingly dismissing the consensus of health experts, scientists and some of his Republican allies that widespread testing is key to the safe end of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, saying Friday that ‘testing isn’t necessary’ and is an imperfect guide. The president has played down the need for testing as he overrides public health recommendations that would prolong the closures of schools, businesses and much of daily life. Although he is now tested every day with a rapid-result machine, Trump has questioned the value of extensive testing as the gap between available capacity and the amount that would be required to meet public health benchmarks has become clearer. Trump’s comments came as a second employee in the White House complex tested positive for the coronavirus, a development that prompted increased testing for staff and other precautions not generally available to most Americans…. ‘I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine,’ Trump said during a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House.”

The Trump Administration Is Ready to Reopen the Economy. Polls Show Its Citizens Aren’t. The New York Times, Giovanni Russonello, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Two months after the coronavirus shuttered much of the United States economy, the outbreak’s impact — on jobs, health care, food access and much more — is growing only more severe, according to a growing body of polling and social science data. But here’s what else the polls are telling us: Americans are generally uninterested in returning to normal, and they tend to believe federal health experts, who continue to warn against a swift reopening of the economy.”

White People Are Demanding Their Lives Back in States Where Black People Are Losing Theirs. In nine reopening states, ‘freedom’ is being built on the back of Black vulnerability. Mother Jones, Edwin Rios and Sinduja Rangarajan, Friday, 8 May 2020: “White people are demanding their lives back while Black people are losing theirs altogether. According to a recent poll by Civis Analytics, just under 70 percent of Americans who oppose lockdowns are white workers who have not lost a job in the pandemic. The New York Times recently characterized the question of reopening as a dilemma between ‘job or health,’ but the pairing begs the question at either end: Whose jobs? Whose health? In fact, a closer look at the data suggests the dubious freedom to work and shop in a plague is being won in places where Black people are most vulnerable. Of the 15 states with the widest disparities between the Black share of the population and the Black share of COVID deaths, nine have reopened or are reopening soon: Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Of those, seven are run by Republican governors. Just one state with a Republican governor, Maryland, has refused to reopen. By now the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus on Black people have been well-documented. Recently, in a snapshot of 14 states, the CDC found that Black people accounted for 18 percent of the sample’s population but 33 percent of hospitalizations for COVID-19. In Georgia, where 34 percent of people are Black, the CDC found that Black people made up 83 percent of hospitalizations for COVID-19. State data shows that they also account for half the deaths, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Georgia might be undercounting its deaths.”

The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying. The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others. The Atlantic, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Once the disproportionate impact of the epidemic was revealed to the American political and financial elite, many began to regard the rising death toll less as a national emergency than as an inconvenience. Temporary measures meant to prevent the spread of the disease by restricting movement, mandating the wearing of masks, or barring large social gatherings have become the foulest tyranny. The lives of workers at the front lines of the pandemic—such as meatpackers, transportation workers, and grocery clerks—have been deemed so worthless that legislators want to immunize their employers from liability even as they force them to work under unsafe conditions. In East New York, police assault black residents for violating social-distancing rules; in Lower Manhattan, they dole out masks and smiles to white pedestrians…. The lives of disproportionately black and brown workers are being sacrificed to fuel the engine of a faltering economy, by a president who disdains them. This is the COVID contract.”

Trump officials’ dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug remdesivir, Axios, Jonathan Swan, Friday, 8 May 2020: “A complete breakdown in communication and coordination within the Trump administration has undermined the distribution of a promising treatment, according to senior officials with direct knowledge of the discussions. Why it matters:The drug, remdesivir, hasn’t made it to some of the high-priority hospitals where it’s most needed, and administration officials have responded by shifting blame and avoiding responsibility, sources said. Where it stands: Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, donated hundreds of thousands of doses to the federal government after the Food and Drug Administration authorized it as an emergency treatment for coronavirus patients. More than 32,000 doses of remdesivir were shipped and delivered on Tuesday to Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. But many of these doses went to “less impacted counties,” an administration official said. ‘Some went to the wrong places, some went to the right places,’ said one senior official. ‘We don’t know who gave the order. And no one is claiming responsibility.'”

White House’s pandemic relief effort Project Airbridge is swathed in secrecy and exaggerations, The Washington Post, Amy Brittain, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Nick Miroff, Friday, 8 May 2020: “On May 1, as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, an illustration of an airplane flying to the moon appeared on the monitors beside her. ‘One hundred flights for Project Airbridge have been completed to date,’ McEnany said, delivering ‘nearly 1 billion pieces’ of personal protective equipment to the front lines. The flights had traveled 720,000 miles, the display read, equal to ‘more than 3 trips to the moon!’ Since the debut of Project Airbridge in March, the Trump administration has promoted the initiative as part of a historic mobilization ‘moving heaven and earth’ to source and deliver vast amounts of medical supplies from overseas to pandemic hot spots in the United States. Widely credited to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the plan harked back to storied U.S. wartime efforts such as the Berlin Airlift. It called for the federal government to partner with a handful of medical supply companies, which could purchase emergency masks, gowns and gloves in Asia. The government would pay to fly the supplies to the United States — bypassing weeks of shipping delays — as long as the companies sold half of the goods in parts of the country hit hardest by the pandemic. Almost six weeks after its launch, Project Airbridge has completed its 122nd flight, having cost taxpayers at least $91 million. But its impact on the pandemic is unclear and shrouded in secrecy: The White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the companies involved have declined to disclose where supplies have been delivered.”

Federal Watchdog Office of Special Counsel Has Found ‘Reasonable Grounds’ to Investigate Whether Whistle-blower Dr. Rick Bright Was Ousted From a Senior Science Post for Questioning Trump Administration Actions, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 8 May 2020: “A federal investigative office has found ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that the Trump administration was retaliating against a whistle-blower, Dr. Rick Bright, when he was ousted from a government research agency combating the coronavirus — and said he should be reinstated for 45 days while it investigates, his lawyers said Friday. The lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, said in a statement that they were notified late Thursday afternoon that the Office of Special Counsel, which protects whistle-blowers, had ‘made a threshold determination’ that the Department of Health and Human Services ‘violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public.’ The finding comes just days after the lawyers filed a whistle-blower complaint saying that Dr. Bright’s removal last month as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was payback. They said Dr. Bright, who was reassigned to a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health, had tried to expose ‘cronyism’ and corruption at the Department of Health and Human Services while pressing for a more robust coronavirus response and opposing the stockpiling of antimalaria drugs championed by President Trump. The recommendation is not binding. A year ago, the same office said Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, should be fired for repeatedly violating legal prohibitions on using her position for political purposes. The president ignored the recommendation. It will now be up to the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, to decide whether to send Dr. Bright back to BARDA during the Office of Special Counsel inquiry.” See also, Watchdog office says there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe ouster of vaccine official Dr. Rick Bright was retaliatory, his lawyers say, The Washington Post, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The Office of Special Counsel has determined there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe a former top vaccine official was removed from his post last month for retaliatory reasons and plans to recommend the Department of Health and Human Services reinstate him while it investigates, the official’s lawyers said Friday. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health that HHS touted as part of a ‘bold new plan’ to improve testing to defeat covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint this week that alleged he was reassigned because he resisted pressure from the department’s political leadership to make ‘potentially harmful drugs widely available,’ including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. President Trump has repeatedly pushed both as possible coronavirus cures. Bright said in the complaint that he tried to ‘prioritize science and safety over political expediency’ and raised concerns over the safety and efficacy of the drugs.” See also, Whistle-Blower Rick Bright Exposes Infighting and Animus in Trump’s Coronavirus Response, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sharon LaFraniere, Michael D. Shear, and Ben Protess, published on Saturday, 9 May 2020.

California to Mail All Voters Ballots for November Election, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Jennifer Medina, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday ordered ballots to be sent to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election, becoming the first state to alter its voting plans for the general election in response to the public health concerns wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. While California has greatly expanded its vote-by-mail operation in past elections — roughly 65 percent of the state voted by mail in the 2018 midterm elections — the decision by the largest state in the country to greatly reduce in-person voting is a recognition by state officials that the coronavirus outbreak is unlikely to subside by the fall.”

The Appalling Damage of Dropping the Michael Flynn Case, The New York Times, Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Criminal law specialists and members of the law enforcement community are tough to really shock. But the Justice Department’s announcement that it would drop criminal charges against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, has provoked, in addition to outrage, a sense of utter demoralization among them. They’ve never seen such a thing before. After all, Mr. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. But it’s important to understand why all Americans should be not just shocked but outraged. It’s not just because Mr. Flynn won’t go to jail or offer any service toward justice. It’s because this move embeds into official U.S. policy an extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people. It’s a deception that Americans must see through — and that the federal judge overseeing Mr. Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, can reject by examining the Justice Department’s rationale in open court and by allowing a future Justice Department to reconsider charges.” See also, Justice Department is rattled as Flynn fallout reaches the FBI: ‘A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country,’ The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump cast fresh doubt Friday on the future of his FBI director as federal law enforcement officials privately wrestled with fallout from the Justice Department’s move to throw out the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The president’s comments in a phone interview with Fox News highlight the ongoing distrust between the White House and some law enforcement officials in the aftermath of a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. ‘It’s disappointing,’ Trump said when asked about Christopher A. Wray’s role in ongoing reviews of the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. ‘Let’s see what happens with him. Look, the jury’s still out.’… While the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. ‘The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,’ said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. ‘He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.'”

‘My God,’ Says Senator Chris Murphy After Attorney General William Barr Deploys the ‘History Is Written by the Winners’ Trope. ‘The head of the US justice system is now saying publicly that there is no good or bad except what the strongest want,’ said another critic. ‘The definition of autocracy.’ Common Dreams, Jon Queally, Friday, 8 May 2020: “‘My god.’ That was the initial two-word reaction of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) late Thursday night after CBS News aired an interview with U.S. Attorney General William Barr who declared that ‘history is written by the winners’ when asked how he thought historians would view the Justice Department’s dropping of charges against President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn earlier in the day. To critics like Murphy, Barr’s response was a clear betrayal of the standards that should be upheld by the Justice Department and the American legal system. ‘The entire idea of the rule of law—that thing the Attorney General is supposed to be in charge of upholding—is predicated on the outcome of elections NOT mattering when it comes to the operation of the legal system,’ Murphy said. After the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against Flynn there was no shortage of outrage directed at Barr, with many critics saying it appeared to be a direct effort to help the president politically. ‘Barr has consistently acted for the personal and political benefit of President Trump, rather than fulfilling his duty as chief law enforcement officer of the United States,’ said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).” See also, Trump Praises Attorney General William Barr and Revels in Dismissal of Charges Against Michael Flynn. In a Fox News interview, Mr. Trump also angrily revived grievances about the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and promised a swift economic rebound. The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump responded on Friday to the Justice Department’s decision to drop criminal charges against his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn by delivering his most extensive and aggrieved remarks on the Russia investigation since the arrival of the coronavirus. In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Trump praised Attorney General William P. Barr for the dramatic action announced Thursday that nullified a major case prosecuted by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” See also, Dropping of Flynn Case Heightens Fears of Justice Department Politicization. Across the country, rank-and-file prosecutors cringed at another extraordinary intervention by Attorney General William P. Barr. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump and his supporters on Friday praised Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to drop the prosecution of Michael T. Flynn, even as career law enforcement officials warned that the action set a disturbing precedent and Democrats accused the administration of further politicizing the Justice Department. ‘Yesterday was a BIG day for Justice in the USA,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘Congratulations to General Flynn, and many others. I do believe there is MUCH more to come! Dirty Cops and Crooked Politicians do not go well together!’ But some rank-and-file prosecutors said they saw Mr. Barr’s action as politically motivated and damaging to the department’s credibility. Several compared the move to his forcing prosecutors in February to reduce a standard sentencing recommendation for Roger J. Stone Jr., a friend of Mr. Trump, saying it would leave a lasting mark on the department.” See also, In Flynn Case, Attorney General William Barr Again Takes Aim at Mueller Inquiry. The Justice Department’s move was the latest example of the attorney general’s effort to chisel away at the special counsel investigation and emphasize an alternate narrative. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Mr. Barr’s extraordinary decision to drop the criminal case against Mr. Flynn shocked legal experts, won President Trump’s praise and prompted a career prosecutor to quit the case. It was the latest in Mr. Barr’s steady effort to undo the results of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. Mr. Barr has portrayed his effort as rectifying injustice, and the president more bluntly as an exercise in political payback.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s Perversion of Justice, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “‘History is written by the winners,’ William Barr, the attorney general, said Thursday when asked how he thought future generations would assess his decision to drop all criminal charges against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, who had pleaded guilty twice to breaking the law. ‘So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.’ In service to Mr. Trump, Mr. Barr is abusing his power not to write, but to erase, some of the most important lessons of American history. The Watergate scandal, with its revelations of how dangerous a renegade White House could be, led to reforms meant to ensure an independent Justice Department, one faithful to the law rather than to the Oval Office…. Among the key reforms were stronger transparency and ethics rules, like the creation of independent inspectors general to root out waste, fraud and abuse in the executive branch. (Mr. Trump has been firing inspectors general he thinks are not loyal to him.) There were also new limits on presidential power, like the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. (President Trump broke that law last year, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, when he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.)” See also, Attorney General Bill Barr Twisted My Words in Dropping the Flynn Case. Here’s the Truth. The F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was constitutional, lawful, and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose. The New York Times, Mary B. McCord, published on Sunday, 10 May 2020. Ms. McCord was an acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department from 2016 to 2017. “At the direction of Attorney General Bill Barr, the Justice Department last week moved to dismiss a false-statements charge against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser. The reason stated was that the continued prosecution ‘would not serve the interests of justice.’ The motion was signed by Timothy Shea, a longtime trusted adviser of Mr. Barr and, since January, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington. In attempting to support its argument, the motion cites more than 25 times the F.B.I.’s report of an interview with me in July 2017, two months after I left a decades-long career at the department (under administrations of both parties) that culminated in my role as the acting assistant attorney general for national security…. [T]he report of my interview is no support for Mr. Barr’s dismissal of the Flynn case. It does not suggest that the F.B.I. had no counterintelligence reason for investigating Mr. Flynn. It does not suggest that the F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn — which led to the false-statements charge — was unlawful or unjustified. It does not support that Mr. Flynn’s false statements were not material. And it does not support the Justice Department’s assertion that the continued prosecution of the case against Mr. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to knowingly making material false statements to the FBI, ‘would not serve the interests of justice.'” See also, I left the Justice Department three months ago after it made a disastrous mistake. It just happened again. The Washington Post, Jonathan Kravis, published on Monday, 11 May 2020: “Three months ago, I resigned from the Justice Department after 10 years as a career prosecutor. I left a job I loved because I believed the department had abandoned its responsibility to do justice in one of my cases, United States v. Roger Stone. At the time, I thought that the handling of the Stone case, with senior officials intervening to recommend a lower sentence for a longtime ally of President Trump, was a disastrous mistake that the department would not make again. I was wrong. Last week, the department again put political patronage ahead of its commitment to the rule of law, filing a motion to dismiss the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn — notwithstanding Flynn’s sworn guilty plea and a ruling by the court that the plea was sound.”

Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case, Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoff, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the ‘rule of law is at risk’ in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as ‘an absolute chaotic disaster.’ ‘The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,’ Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association. ‘And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.'” See also, Obama Warns That Dropped Charges Against Michael Flynn Put ‘Rule of Law’ at Risk, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Michael Crowley, published on Saturday, 9 May 2020: “Former President Barack Obama launched a far-ranging attack on the Trump administration in an address to former aides on Friday, warning that the ‘rule of law’ was endangered by the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and criticizing the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic as ‘chaotic.’ ‘There is no precedent that anybody can find for somebody who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,’ Mr. Obama told hundreds of members of the Obama Alumni Association during an online discussion moderated by his friend and former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.” See also, Obama says end to Michael Flynn case puts rule of law at risk and calls the Trump administration’s response to covid-19 a ‘disaster,’ The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles and Meryl Kornfield, published on Saturday, 9 May 2020: “Former president Barack Obama shared deep worries Friday about the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, telling old aides on a call that ‘our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,’ according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News and confirmed by an Obama spokesperson. Obama also appeared to slam the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as an ‘absolute chaotic disaster,’ offering the sort of blistering criticisms he has rarely aired in public. Obama said shortly before President Trump took office that he would only weigh in on his successor’s actions when he believes ‘our core values may be at stake.’ With his comments on Flynn, Obama joined a wave of criticism from Democrats and law enforcement officials, as legal analysts see a pattern by Attorney General William P. Barr to intervene in cases that involve the president’s allies.”

Senators Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey, and Kamala Harris want to give Americans $2,000 a month during coronavirus pandemic, but they face strong resistance from Republicans, USA Today, Nicholas Wu, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The single $1,200 check to Americans in a federal stimulus package was not enough to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of senators say, and they want to send more. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey and Kamala Harris unveiled legislation Friday that would provide $2,000 payments until three months after the Department of Health and Human Services declared the public health emergency to be over, a proposal likely to face strong resistance from the White House and congressional Republicans. The senators said the legislation would provide much-needed economic support as businesses suffer the economic impacts of social distancing measures designed to stop the virus’ spread. The U.S. unemployment rate has soared to 14.7% with 20.5 million jobs lost in April. ‘The one-time $1,200 check that many Americans recently received is not nearly enough to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet,’ said Sanders, I-Vt.”

It took 74 days for suspects to be charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Many are asking why it took so long. The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Michael Brice-Saddler, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The arrests of two white men in the fatal shooting of a black jogger did little to calm outrage in this coastal community [Brunswick, Georgia] Friday, where face-mask-wearing demonstrators called for the resignations, recalls or arrests of authorities who allowed the suspects to walk free for 10 weeks. Activists, politicians and legal experts across the country have raised alarm that it took 74 days and the graphic, viral video of Ahmaud Arbery’s final moments to compel authorities to arrest the father and son suspected of cornering the 25-year-old with a pickup truck before he was gunned down. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation official said Friday that there’s no plan to investigate the local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies that did not arrest or file charges against suspects Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory McMichael, 64. The elder is a retired police detective who had worked for the district attorney’s office initially charged with prosecuting the case. Two days after taking over the case, the GBI charged the McMichaels with murder and aggravated assault.” See also, After the Shooting Death of Ahmaud Arbery, ‘Running While Black’ Stirs Even More Anxiety, The New York Times, Matthew Futterman and Talya Minsberg, Friday, 8 May 2020: “The killing in February of an African-American man in Georgia and the graphic video of it that emerged this week have brought to the fore a unique anxiety that has long troubled countless runners — running while black. People across the country took to the streets Friday to honor Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man fatally shot on Feb. 23, by running or walking 2.23 miles, sharing their journeys by using the social media hashtag #IRunWithMaud. For many black runners, the killing and its aftermath have shed light on simmering fears of being attacked or racially profiled while running, an anxiety largely undiscussed in the wider running community, but one that is now causing runners of color to think even harder about the decisions they have to make when they go out for a jog.” See also, Ahmaud Arbery Video Was Leaked by a Lawyer Who Consulted With the Murder Suspects, The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Friday, 8 May 2020: “For weeks after Ahmaud Arbery was killed while running down a road in coastal southern Georgia, there were few public developments in the case of a 25-year-old unarmed black man who was shot while being pursued by two white men with weapons in February. Then a graphic video of the shooting surfaced online, spurring widespread outrage. Within days, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had taken over the case. The video was criticized by celebrities and politicians alike, including President Trump, who called the footage ‘very, very disturbing,’ and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who said Mr. Arbery had essentially been ‘lynched before our very eyes.’ And in a major turn, the authorities announced on Thursday night that they had arrested two suspects in the case and charged them with murder and aggravated assault. The video — which by Friday officials had described as ‘a very important piece’ of evidence in moving forward with criminal charges — was first posted by WGIG, a local radio station in Brunswick, Ga., which said it had obtained the footage from an anonymous source. But in a twist emblematic of the small-town politics that have defined the case, that source turned out to be a criminal defense lawyer in town who had informally consulted with the suspects.” See also, Georgia Killing Puts Spotlight on a Police Force’s Troubled History. The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery has renewed criticism of the police agency that released the two suspects. They were charged by the state months later. The New York Times, Rick Rojas, Richard Fausset, and Serge F. Kovaleski, Friday, 8 May 2020.

Former Senate aide Tara Reade calls on Joe Biden to withdraw from presidential race, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, on Thursday called on him to withdraw from the presidential race. In Reade’s first interview since Biden unequivocally denied the allegation last week, she was asked by former Fox News anchor and NBC News correspondent Megyn Kelly what she wanted to say to Biden. ‘I want to say: You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please, step forward and be held accountable,’ Reade said in a short clip that Kelly posted on her Twitter account. ‘You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.’ Asked if she wanted him to withdraw, Reade responded: ‘I wish he would. But he won’t.’ She said she did not want an apology from Biden, saying, ‘I think it’s a little late.'” See also, Biden accuser Tara Reade says she is ‘not here to influence a national election,’ The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Tara Reade, emotionally recounting her allegation that then-boss Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, insisted in an interview released online Friday that she did not want her accusations to be seen through a political prism. ‘I’m not here to influence a national election,’ she told former Fox and NBC broadcaster Megyn Kelly in an interview posted online. ‘I don’t want to help Donald Trump win. I don’t want to help Joe Biden win.’ In the 42-minute interview, Reade seemed to acknowledge that some of the details of her account may sound implausible — including her assertion that Biden assaulted her on a weekday in a Senate corridor — but maintained that her story was true and said the experience had changed her life. Biden, for whom Reade worked as a staff assistant for eight months, has denied her account. ‘I don’t really care if people believe it or not,’ she said. ‘I’ve had to live with it. And it is just one of those things that’s impacted and shattered my life.'” See also, In Court Document, Tara Reade’s Ex-Husband Said She Spoke of Harassment, The New York Times, Stephanie Saul and Lisa Lerer, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Tara Reade complained to her ex-husband during the 1990s that she had been a victim of sexual harassment while working in Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Senate office, court records show, providing the first contemporaneous record supporting her claims that sexual misconduct occurred when she worked for Mr. Biden. The records, part of more than 500 pages filed in connection with Ms. Reade’s 1996 divorce in California, do not specifically say that Mr. Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was the perpetrator, nor do they allege that she was sexually assaulted, her most recent claim.”

Chief Justice John Roberts Rejects Request for Inquiry into D.C. Appeals Court Vacancy, The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Friday turned down a request from the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to designate another court to conduct an ethics inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a retirement from what is widely viewed as the second-most important court in the nation. In response to the request from Judge Sri Srinivasan, the circuit’s chief judge, a legal adviser to Chief Justice Roberts said the request from last Friday did not meet the standards for transferring the inquiry to another judicial circuit to pursue. The issue arose from a March complaint filed by the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice, which asked the appeals court to determine whether political influence had inappropriately figured into the decision by Judge Thomas B. Griffith to retire, creating an election-year slot on the influential appeals court.”

Trump says he nominated Jeff Sessions as attorney general even though he wasn’t ‘equipped’ for the job, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Friday, 8 May 2020: “President Trump on Friday denigrated former attorney general Jeff Sessions as a ‘total disaster’ as he recounted during a television interview that he nominated Sessions for the position even though he did not think the former senator from Alabama was ‘equipped’ for it. Trump said he felt obligated to give the top Justice Department job to Sessions because of his strong support during the 2016 presidential campaign. ‘I didn’t want to make him attorney general, but he was the first senator to endorse me, so I felt a little bit of an obligation,’ Trump said on Fox News’s ‘Fox & Friends.’ ‘He came to see me four times, just begging me to be attorney general. He wasn’t, to me, equipped to be attorney general, but he just wanted it, wanted it, wanted it.'”

With Push From Trump, Senate Moves to Install Contentious Filmmaker Michael Pack, an Ally of Stephen K. Bannon, to Run the Agency in Charge of the Voice of America. Employees Are Worried. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Edward Wong, Friday, 8 May 2020: “Senate Republican leaders, under pressure from President Trump to install an ally who would dictate more favorable news coverage of his administration, are moving to swiftly confirm a conservative filmmaker to lead the independent agency in charge of state-funded media outlets. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has scheduled a committee meeting next week to advance the long-stalled nomination of Michael Pack, a close ally of Stephen K. Bannon’s and a favorite of conservative activists, to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The action came after Mr. Trump pressed Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, during a recent call to speed up Mr. Pack’s nomination, according to three people familiar with the private conversation who discussed it on the condition of anonymity.”

 

Saturday, 9 May 2020, Day 1,205:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates on Saturday, 9 May 2020: Coronavirus Forces Gulf States to Reckon With Their Scores of Migrant Workers, The New York Times, Saturday, 9 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 9 May 2020: Top Health Officials to Quarantine After Being Exposed. Three children have died of a mysterious syndrome linked to the virus. Trump’s support among seniors slips as the pandemic becomes more political. The New York Times, Saturday, 9 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, 9 May 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci and the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration will take precautions after they were exposed to coronavirus, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Katie Mettler, Meryl Kornfield, Miriam Berger, Candace Buckner, Samantha Pell, and Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “Since two White House aides tested positive for the coronavirus last week, officials who were potentially exposed have responded in a variety of ways, raising questions about how the administration is keeping the president, vice president and their staffs safe. On Saturday night, a spokeswoman for Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease official, said he would be working from home sometimes. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘will be teleworking for the next two weeks,’ according to a CDC spokesman. And Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, began to self-quarantine for two weeks, the FDA said late Friday. Confirmed cases have surpassed 4 million worldwide, with more than 279,000 deaths.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Former president Barack Obama appeared to slam the Trump administration’s coronavirus response as an ‘absolute chaotic disaster’ during a Friday night call, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News and confirmed by an Obama representative.
  • The FDA issued an emergency authorization of a new antigen test to rapidly detect the virus.
  • Health officials are warning against Mother’s Day gatherings, including in a California city where a cluster of covid-19 cases has emerged among attendees of a recent birthday party.
  • In the latest clash over coronavirus-related restrictions, Tesla on Saturday filed a lawsuit against the California county that has prohibited the electric car company from producing vehicles during the outbreak.
  • Three children in New York have died of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome thought to be related to the coronavirus, officials said.
  • Confronted with the worst jobs report since the Great Depression, the White House and congressional Democrats aren’t even talking to each other about what — if anything — to do about it.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

As deaths mount, Trump tries to convince Americans it’s safe to inch back to normal, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “In a week when the novel coronavirus ravaged new communities across the country and the number of dead soared past 78,000, President Trump and his advisers shifted from hour-by-hour crisis management to what they characterize as a long-term strategy aimed at reviving the decimated economy and preparing for additional outbreaks this fall. But in doing so, the administration is effectively bowing to — and asking Americans to accept — a devastating proposition: that a steady, daily accumulation of lonely deaths is the grim cost of reopening the nation. Inside the West Wing, some officials talk about the federal government’s mitigation mission as largely accomplished because they believe the nation’s hospitals are now equipped to meet anticipated demand — even as health officials warn the number of coronavirus cases could increase considerably in May and June as more states and localities loosen restrictions, and some mitigation efforts are still recommended as states begin to reopen.” See also, White House aides rattled after positive coronavirus tests, and officials send mixed messages on how to respond, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Amy Goldstein, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “The White House on Saturday scrambled to deal with the fallout from two aides testing positive for the coronavirus, as officials who were potentially exposed responded differently, with some senior members of the pandemic task force self-quarantining while others planned to continue to go to work.”

Fight Over Virus’s Death Toll Opens Grim New Front in Election Battle. Elements of the right have sought to bolster Trump’s political standing by turning scientific questions into political issues. The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Jim Rutenberg, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “The claim was tailor-made for President Trump’s most steadfast backers: Federal guidelines are coaching doctors to mark Covid-19 as the cause of death even when it is not, inflating the pandemic’s death toll. That the claim came from a doctor, Scott Jensen, who also happens to be a Republican state senator in Minnesota, made it all the more alluring to the president’s allies. Never mind the experts who said that, if anything, the death toll was being vastly undercounted.”

AP Exclusive: Documents show top White House officials buried Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, Associated Press, Jason Dearen, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press. The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval. The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.”

Experts warn that industrial animal farming has caused most new infectious diseases and risks more pandemics, The Independent, Jane Dalton, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “Industrial animal farming has caused most new infectious diseases in humans in the past decade – and risks starting new pandemics as animal markets have done, experts are warning. Experts from both the UN and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have pinpointed animals or food of animal origin as a starting point for emerging diseases, such as Covid-19, which has killed more than 270,000 people worldwide. And a separate report has cautioned that replacing Asia’s open-air slaughter markets with factory farming for meat would create similarly dangerous conditions for highly virulent flu strains to breed.”

Trump administration asks court to dismiss lawsuit to add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Saturday, 9 May 2020: “The Trump administration is asking a federal court to throw out a lawsuit from three attorneys general that seeks to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. In January, the attorneys general of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada sued US archivist David Ferriero in US District Court in Washington, DC, to force him to ‘carry out his statutory duty of recognizing the complete and final adoption’ of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. On Thursday, Department of Justice officials with the civil division filed a motion to dismiss the case — an expected move that follows a January opinion from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel that the deadline to ratify the ERA has expired.”

 

Sunday, 10 May 2020, Day 1,206:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 10 May 2020: Boris Johnson Announces a Coronavirus Quarantine for Travelers to U.K., The New York Times, Sunday, 10 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 10 May 2020: When Will the Pandemic End? And How? The infection has now penetrated the White House, where two aides have tested positive. Unemployment could climb above 20 percent. The New York Times, Sunday, 10 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 10 May 2020: New York City Reports 38 Cases of Virus-Related Syndrome in Children. The inflammatory syndrome, which health officials said resembles toxic shock, has killed three children in the state, and Mayor Bill de Blasio urged parents to watch for symptoms. The New York Times, Sunday, 10 May 2020:

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, 10 May 2020: Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will self-quarantine and chair hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials remotely, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Katie Mettler, Meryl Kornfield, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Knowles, Steven Goff, Kareem Copeland, and Allyson Chiu, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “Sen. Lamar Alexander will self-quarantine ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after one of his staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The Tennessee Republican will chair a Senate health committee hearing Tuesday by video, a spokesman said Sunday. Alexander tested negative Thursday and does not have symptoms, his chief of staff said in a statement. All four top health officials scheduled as witnesses plan to make remote appearances as well after potential virus exposure in the White House. Several members of the White House’s coronavirus task force are taking precautions as a widening circle of exposure underscores the difficulty of keeping the country’s top leaders and their staff members safe.

Here are some significant developments:

  • White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that Americans face an economy that will worsen in the coming months, with predictions that the unemployment rate will jump to 20 percent from the 14.7 percent reported Thursday.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britain on Sunday that the lockdown in the country will mostly continue through May. He also introduced a new government slogan that led to some head-scratching and was widely panned on social media.
  • Washington residents who complained about businesses violating coronavirus restrictions have faced harassment and threats of violence.
  • Republicans are increasingly nervous about losing the Senate this fall amid worries over Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
  • Even a partial reopening of the country could pose life-threatening risks to 1 in 3 Americans, said the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
  • The coronavirus has altered almost every hard-hit country in deep and lasting ways. But the changes are particularly perilous in Italy.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Doctors keep discovering new ways the coronavirus attacks the body, The Washington Post, Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “Today, there is widespread recognition the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus. Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots, even as they struggle to help patients breathe. More than four months of clinical experience across Asia, Europe and North America has shown the pathogen does much more than invade the lungs. ‘No one was expecting a disease that would not fit the pattern of pneumonia and respiratory illness,’ said David Reich, a cardiac anesthesiologist and president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It attacks the heart, weakening its muscles and disrupting its critical rhythm. It savages kidneys so badly some hospitals have run short of dialysis equipment. It crawls along the nervous system, destroying taste and smell and occasionally reaching the brain. It creates blood clots that can kill with sudden efficiency and inflames blood vessels throughout the body. It can begin with a few symptoms or none at all, then days later, squeeze the air out of the lungs without warning. It picks on the elderlypeople weakened by previous disease, and, disproportionately, the obese. It harms men more than women, but there are also signs it complicates pregnancies.”

Questions of Bias in Covid-19 Treatment Add to the Mourning for Black Families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised health professionals to be on the lookout for medical bias. The New York Times, John Eligon and Audra D. S. Burch, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “The coronavirus has left tens of thousands of grief-stricken American families struggling to make sense of the seemingly random terror it inflicts, sickening many but only taking some lives. But for many black families, mourning coronavirus deaths brings an added burden as they wonder whether racial bias may have played a role. Decades of research shows that black patients receive inferior medical care to white patients. A long history of experimentation, exploitation and mistreatment has left many African-Americans deeply suspicious of the medical establishment. Now comes Covid-19, and the fear among many families, social scientists and public health experts that racial bias might be contributing to the disproportionately high rate at which the novel coronavirus is killing African-Americans. Acknowledging a history of implicit bias in medical care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently advised health care professionals to be careful not to let bias influence their treatment during this pandemic. Preliminary research by a Boston-based biotech firm suggests that treatment may not be consistent across the board. The study found that black people who visited hospitals with Covid-19 symptoms in February and March were less likely to get tested or treated than white patients.”

Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant, The New York Times, Ana Swanson, David Yaffe-Bellany, and Michael Corkery, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “After President Trump’s executive order [declaring the meat supply ‘critical infrastructure’], meat plants are reopening. Can they do so without endangering their low-wage workers and their communities?”

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx’s public withdrawal worries health experts. As Trump clamps down on coronavirus communications, voices of experts give way to those of politicians. Politico, Adam Cancryn, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “President Donald Trump’s oscillations over the fate of his coronavirus task force have tapped into a growing fear within the nation’s public health community: That at a critical juncture in the pandemic fight, the government’s top health experts might still be seen, but increasingly not heard. The Trump administration in recent weeks has clamped down on messaging, largely shifting its focus to cheerleading a restart of the nation’s economy even as states and businesses clamor for guidance on how to do so safely. Key health agencies remain relegated to the background. Some congressional requests for health officials’ testimony are being rejected. And though the task force is still intact, it has not held a press briefing for 13 days — the longest the public has gone without having Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx at the White House podium since the briefings began in late February.”

One-Third of All U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Nursing Home Residents or Workers, The New York Times, Karen Yourish, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Danielle Ivory, and Mitch Smith, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “At least 27,600 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. The virus so far has infected more than 150,000 at some 7,700 facilities. Nursing home populations are at a high risk of being infected by — and dying from — the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is known to be particularly lethal to older adults with underlying health conditions, and can spread more easily through congregate facilities, where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room. While just 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Calls the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery a ‘Lynching’ and Says Trump’s Rhetoric Emboldens Racists, Slate, Daniel Politi, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms characterized the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery as a lynching while she also blasted President Donald Trump for his rhetoric that gives racists a green light to act on their worst impulses. ‘It is heartbreaking. It’s 2020 and this was a lynching of an African-American man,’ Bottoms said on CNN’s State of the Union. Bottoms, who is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, went on to say that the killing was ‘part of this bigger issue’ in the country that can be traced back to Washington. ‘With the rhetoric that we hear coming out of the White House, in so many ways, I think many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020,’ she said. Bottoms agrees with those who say that Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael were only arrested and charged with murder because the video of the killing was made public.”

White House Races to Contain Coronavirus in Its Ranks: ‘It Is Scary to Go to Work,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “The Trump administration is racing to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus inside the White House, as some senior officials believe that the disease is already spreading rapidly through the warren of cramped offices that make up the three floors of the West Wing. Three top officials leading the government’s coronavirus response have begun two weeks of self-quarantine after two members of the White House staff — one of President Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive. But others who came into contact with Ms. Miller and the valet are continuing to report to work at the White House.” See also, ‘It’s scary to go to work’ at the White House or Senate, making it tricky for Trump to argue Americans should return to work, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Monday, 11 May 2020.

Donald Trump Started Off His Mother’s Day With a Particularly Deranged Tweet Storm, Esquire, Gabrielle Bruney, Sunday, 10 May 2020: “Donald Trump is a creature of habit—he starts off most Saturdays and Sundays with a hearty tweet storm. Today may be Mother’s Day, but that hasn’t shaken the president from his routine. As CNN’s Manu Raju pointed out via Twitter, in a single hour Sunday morning, Trump fired off 52 tweets, retweets and quote tweets. He managed one ‘HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY’ an hour in, but aside from that hasn’t had anything to say about the moms in his life. Instead, it’s been Michael Flynn and the Russia investigation, with a side of dodging blame for the catastrophically mishandled coronavirus pandemic. A sampling: The president retweeted a comment from an account called ‘Tha_Raptor,’ which has 128 followers and whose bio reads, ‘I like whataburger spicy ketchup.’ According to Tha Raptor, ‘Unless people are indited [sic] and put in prison the corruption will continue. People will continue to run with fake news and conspiracies until they are shown individuals being handcuffed and prosecuted. Its [sic] also time to fire people from the FBI, CIA, DOJ, DNI.’ A very normal sentiment from a very credible social media account for the President of the United States to amplify to the world.”

 

Monday, 11 May 2020, Day 1,207:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 11 May 2020: New British Guidelines Sow Confusion. As France, Russia and others eased restrictions, Germany watches warily as the rate the virus is spreading has risen there. And in Mexico City, while other sounds are muffled, street musicians play on. The New York Times, Monday, 11 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 11 May 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci to Warn Senate of ‘Needless Suffering and Death.’ The risks of reopening the country too soon will be a focus of government hearings on Tuesday. The White House’s new mask requirement won’t apply to President Trump. The New York Times, Monday, 11 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 11 May 2020: Parts of Upstate New York Could Reopen This Weekend, The New York Times, Monday, 11 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 11 May 2020: Tesla to Restart Bay Area Factory in Defiance of Local Order, The New York Times, Monday, 11 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 11 May 2020: Trump declares that the U.S. has ‘prevailed’ with testing, but the numbers show that is not true; White House officials will wear masks, The Washington Post, Katie Mettler, Marisa Iati, John Wagner, Meryl Kornfield, Steven Goff, Felicia Sonmez, Kareem Copeland, Teo Armus, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Monday, 11 May 2020: “At a Rose Garden news conference, President Trump declared that the United States has ‘met the moment and … prevailed’ in terms of testing for the novel coronavirus. [The numbers tell a different story.] Later, Trump walked out after a tense exchange with two reporters. Meanwhile, most White House officials will be asked to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces on complex grounds, administration officials said. Yet Trump is still unlikely to wear a mask or face covering, aides say.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Democratic senators are preparing to grill top federal health officials Tuesday at a highly anticipated hearing on the pandemic, with much of the questioning centered on whether the nation is ready to reopen.
  • Joe Biden’s presidential campaign unveiled a new digital ad slamming Trump’s response to the pandemic, arguing that the president’s actions plunged the country into an unprecedented crisis.
  • Louisiana became the latest state to announce plans for a ‘phase one’ reopening, although the mayor of New Orleans said she would announce her own plan Tuesday. Check on any state’s reopening plans with this interactive map.
  • Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said he would defy local orders and reopen a factory, daring officials to arrest him. He also threatened to move business from California to Texas or Nevada.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, Trump administration’s top infectious-diseases expert, thinks it is at least ‘feasible’ that NFL fans could see professional football get underway as planned this fall.
  • China is struggling to put an end to transmission, with new cases reported in the cities of Wuhan and Shulan.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump is wrong. The U.S. does not ‘lead the world in testing.’ Vox, German Lopez, Monday, 11 May 2020: “As President Donald Trump spoke at the Rose Garden on Monday about coronavirus testing, a banner behind him made a bold claim: ‘America Leads The World In Testing.’ That claim, however, is very misleading. It’s true that the US leads the world in total number of tests, in large part because it’s a big country and has the most confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths globally. But when controlling for population, America is behind several countries in terms of Covid-19 testing: As of May 9, the US testing rate is roughly 26 per 1,000 people, according to Our World in Data; in comparison, Denmark’s rate is 53, Italy’s is 42, New Zealand’s is 39, Germany’s is 33 (as of May 3), and Canada’s is 28.” See also, Testing in the U.S. has improved, but only after a very slow start, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 11 May 2020. See also, Trump claims U.S. outpaces the world in coronavirus testing, but numbers tell a different story, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Brady Dennis, Philip Rucker, and John Wagner, Monday, 11 May 2020. See also, White House Orders Staff to Wear Masks, and Trump Misrepresents the Testing Record of the U.S. At a news conference, Trump reiterated that he would not wear a mask himself and again exaggerated the availability of testing for the coronavirus. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, and Linda Qiu, Monday, 11 May 2020: “The White House on Monday ordered all West Wing employees to wear masks at work unless they are sitting at their desks, an abrupt shift in policy after two aides working near the president — a military valet and Katie Miller, the vice president’s spokeswoman — tested positive for the coronavirus last week. In an internal email obtained by The New York Times, people who work in the cramped quarters around the Oval Office were told that ‘as an additional layer of protection, we are requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or face covering.’ Asked at a Rose Garden news conference whether he had ordered the change, Mr. Trump — who did not wear a mask and has repeatedly said he sees no reason to — said, ‘Yeah, I did.’ But officials said the new requirement was not expected to apply to Mr. Trump or to Vice President Mike Pence…. [T]he president’s claim that ‘we’ve prevailed on testing’ was also premature, even by his government’s own standards. Though the United States has ramped up testing from 150,000 tests per day from a month ago to 300,000 per day recently, the current rate still remains far behind the five million daily target he himself set last month. The president’s claim about testing being available for anyone was also misleading. It is one thing to have enough testing capacity for everyone who is symptomatic or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, but that is quite different from having enough to provide reassurance to people considering returning to normal life.”

It took one question from Philip Rucker of The Washington Post to expose Trump’s latest baseless Obama conspiracy theory, Vox, Aaron Rupar, Monday, 11 May 2020: “On Monday, a reporter exposed President Donald Trump for yet again peddling a nonsensical conspiracy theory about Barack Obama. Hours after Trump posted a string of tweets and retweets about ‘Obamagate’ — a new conspiracy theory that holds Obama responsible for masterminding the Russia investigation and railroading former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn into a guilty plea for lying to the FBI (never mind that there’s no evidence of investigatory misconduct) — Philip Rucker of the Washington Post called Trump’s bluff. ‘In one of your Mother’s Day tweets, you appeared to accuse President Obama of “the biggest political crime in American history, by far” — those were your words. What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing, and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?’ Rucker asked, during a news conference that was ostensibly about the coronavirus. Trump had nothing. ‘Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time,’ he began. ‘It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at now, all this information that’s being released — and from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.’ Of course, ‘Obamagate’ does not involve a crime, and there’s no evidence that Obama or his top officials conspired against Trump — quite the opposite. So when Rucker pressed the point by asking what exactly the ostensible crime was, Trump resorted to smears. ‘You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.'” See also, Trump’s Mother’s Day tweetstorm accusing Obama of crimes, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, published on Tuesday, 12 May 2020.

Trump clashes with female reporters and then abruptly leaves press briefing. Trump lashes out at Asian American journalist Weijia Jiang who queried his constant emphasis on turning coronavirus testing into a global competition when so many are still dying, The Guardian, David Smith, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on Monday after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: ‘Don’t ask me. Ask China.’ With the stars and stripes at his back, Trump held his first press briefing since 27 April in the White House rose garden, flanked by testing equipment and swabs and signs that proclaimed: ‘America leads the world in testing.’ But during a question and answer session, Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent of CBS News, asked why the president constantly emphasises that the US is doing better than any other country when it comes to testing. ‘Why does that matter?’ she queried. ‘Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?’ Trump retorted: ‘Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer.’ The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: ‘Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?’ The president replied: ‘I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.’ The CBS correspondent pointed out: ‘That is not a nasty question.’ Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium. Trump has frequently been criticised for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two. Tara Setmayer, a political commentator, tweeted: ‘Another disgraceful, racist, temper tantrum by Trump b/c he was asked a pointed question by @weijia… Trump can’t handle smart, assertive women.'” See also, Trump’s ‘ask China’ response to CBS’s Weijia Jiang shocked the room, and was part of a pattern, The Washington Post, Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi, published on Tuesday, 12 May 2020.

Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation, CBS News, Christina Capatides, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Doctors Without Borders is best known for sending medical professionals into international conflict zones in the midst of medical crises. The organization has teams in Afghanistan, Iran, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and 66 other countries. It did not, however, have a medical presence in the U.S. — until now. Jean Stowell, head of the organization’s U.S. COVID-19 Response Team, told CBS News that Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a team of nine to the hard-hit Navajo Nation in the southwest U.S. because of the crisis unfolding there. The team consists of two physicians, three nurse/midwives, a water sanitation specialist, two logisticians and a health promoter who specializes in community health education. ‘There are many situations in which we do not intervene in the United States, but this has a particular risk profile,’ Stowell said. ‘Situationally, the Native American communities are at a much higher risk for complications from COVID-19 and also from community spread because they don’t have access to the variety of things that make it possible to self-isolate… You can’t expect people to isolate if they have to drive 100 miles to get food and water. ‘”

Unreleased White House report shows coronavirus rates spiking in cities far from the coasts, NBC News, Jonathan Allen, Phil McCausland, and Cyrus Farivar, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities across the country, according to undisclosed data the White House’s pandemic task force is using to track rates of infection, which was obtained by NBC News. The data in a May 7 coronavirus task force report are at odds with President Donald Trump’s declaration Monday that ‘all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly.’ The 10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4 percent or greater over a seven-day period compared to the previous week, according to a set of tables produced for the task force by its data and analytics unit. They include Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; and — atop the list, with a 650 percent increase — Central City, Kentucky.”

Vice President Mike Pence will not self-quarantine and plans to be at the White House Monday, CNN Politics, Jeremy Diamond, Paul LeBlanc, and Kevin Liptak, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Vice President Mike Pence is not planning to enter self-quarantine after his press secretary tested positive for coronavirus on Friday and plans to be at the White House on Monday, his office said on Sunday…. The announcement comes as the White House continues to urge governors to begin reopening their states even as the virus has edged closer to the West Wing with news that top members of the coronavirus task force will self-quarantine, in some form, after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus. An official said there is extreme sensitivity inside the White House at the current state of affairs with officials recognizing the contradiction in telling states to reopen while the White House enhances protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Trump Administration Cuts Funding for Coronavirus Researcher Peter Daszak, Jeopardizing Possible Covid-19 Cure. An American scientist who collaborates with the Wuhan Institute of Virology had his grant terminated in the wake of unsubstantiated claims that COVID-19 is either manmade or leaked out of a Chinese government lab. CBS News, Scott Pelley, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Peter Daszak is a scientist whose work is helping in the search for a COVID-19 cure. So why did the president just cancel Daszak’s funding? It’s the kind of politics which might seem [!] ill-advised in a health crisis. President Trump is blaming China’s government for the pandemic. The outbreak was first detected in the city of Wuhan. The administration has said, at times, the virus is man-made or that, if it’s natural, it must have leaked out of a Chinese government lab. Both the White House and the Chinese Communist Party have been less than honest. And so, in China, and the U.S., the work of scientists like Peter Daszak is being undercut by pandemic politics.”

Federal Watchdog to Examine Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney’s Role in Tribal Fund Distribution, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Mark Walker, Monday, 11 May 2020: “A federal watchdog is investigating whether a top Interior Department official violated ethics rules when she helped decide how a critical tranche of funds for Native American tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law should be distributed. The department’s inspector general informed lawmakers on Friday that he would review the roles of Tara Sweeney, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, and other top officials ‘to determine whether there was adherence to ethics rules and regulations and compliance with the ethics pledge’ related to the funding. Several tribal governments are suing the federal government over its decision to allow Alaska Native corporations, for-profit businesses that support tribal villages in Alaska, to receive a portion of the $8 billion set aside for tribes, arguing that the corporations should not be eligible for the aid.”

More than 1,900 former Justice Department employees again call for Barr’s resignation, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 11 May 2020: “More than 1,900 former Justice Department employees on Monday repeated a call for William P. Barr to step down as attorney general, asserting in an open letter he had ‘once again assaulted the rule of law’ by moving to drop the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The letter, organized by the nonprofit Protect Democracy, was signed by Justice Department staffers serving in Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The vast majority were former career staffers — rather than political appointees — who worked as federal prosecutors or supervisors at U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country or the Justice Department in downtown Washington.” See also, Two Ex-Justice Department Officials Lash Out at Attorney General William Barr over Flynn and Stone Cases. The attorney general’s interventions damaged the Justice Department, argued the former officials, who were directly involved in the cases of the two Trump allies. The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Monday, 11 May 2020: “Two former law enforcement officials involved in the cases of the onetime Trump advisers Michael T. Flynn and Roger J. Stone Jr. attacked Attorney General William P. Barr’s extraordinary intervention in the inquiries, condemning his moves as detrimental to the rule of law and to public confidence in the Justice Department. In op-ed articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the former officials, Mary B. McCord and Jonathan Kravis, denounced Mr. Barr’s move last week to drop a criminal case against Mr. Flynn and his earlier intervention to recommend a more lenient sentence for crimes that Mr. Stone committed in a bid to protect the president.”

Nashville N.A.A.C.P. Leader Finds Bull’s-Eye in His Yard. The Rev. Keith Caldwell found the target propped up outside his house on Saturday night. A police officer was dismissive, he said, but the department is now investigating. The New York Times, Christine Hauser, Monday, 11 May 2020: “The leader of the Nashville chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. walked out of his house on Saturday night to find that someone had propped up a bull’s-eye target in his yard, apparently having done so by climbing over a locked gate. So the chapter president, the Rev. Keith Caldwell, called the police. But according to an account that Mr. Caldwell posted on Facebook, the officer who came to his house did not take the threat seriously. The officer, he wrote, shrugged ‘and said that he thought the target was pretty cool. I informed him that I am the local N.A.A.C.P. President and have deep concerns about what this could mean for the safety of my life and the lives of my family members,’ Mr. Caldwell wrote. He said he had told the officer ‘that it concerned me that he was so flippant about the matter.'”

 

Tuesday, 12 May 2020, Day 1,208:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 12 May 2020: Quietly but Savagely, the Coronavirus Is Decimating Latin America. As nations loosen rules, new clusters in places that seemed to have tamed the virus show how hard success is to sustain. In Wuhan, a seemingly small cluster led to a giant response — tests for the entire city. The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 12 May 2020: Top Health Experts Paint Bleak Picture of Coronavirus Pandemic. At a hearing, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told senators that if the country did not adequately prepare, ‘then we run the risk of having a resurgence.’ The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates on Tuesday, 12 May 2020: About 100 N.Y. Children Treated for Illness Tied to Coronavirus, The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 12 May 2020: Stocks Fall Amid Concerns Over Recovery, The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 12 May 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that ‘consequences could be really serious’ if states move too quickly to reopen, The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum, John Wagner, Kim Bellware, Marisa Iati, Siobhán O’Grady, Miriam Berger, Ruby Mellen, Meryl Kornfield, Samantha Pell, Candace Buckner, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “As many parts of the world, including the United States, explore ways to end stay-at-home orders, countries that had already opened up are closing down again after renewed spikes in infections. Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections, almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to contain the spread of the virus and began easing up. In the U.S., federal health officials testified at a Senate hearing on whether the country is truly ready to reopen, as the death toll surpassed 81,500 on Tuesday. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned that ‘consequences could be really serious’ if states move too quickly. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the committee that social distancing remains ‘imperative’ for Americans.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

At Senate Hearing, Government Experts Paint Bleak Picture of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The downbeat assessment of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Robert R. Redfield contradicted President Trump’s growing insistence that the nation has put the coronavirus behind it. The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Two of the federal government’s top health officials painted a grim picture of the months ahead on Tuesday, warning a Senate panel that the coronavirus pandemic was far from contained, just a day after President Trump declared that ‘we have met the moment and we have prevailed.’ The officials — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — predicted dire consequences if the nation reopened its economy too soon, noting that the United States still lacked critical testing capacity and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns Senate that reopening U.S. too quickly could lead to avoidable ‘suffering and death,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mike DeBonis, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Laurie McGinley, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “The nation’s top health officials warned on Tuesday the U.S. risks new outbreaks of coronavirus and possibly a broad resurgence if states and cities reopen too quickly. And they cautioned that neither a vaccine, nor surefire treatments would be available when schools are slated to reopen in the fall — a grim reminder that life would not soon return to normal even if Americans resume their routines. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, predicted Americans would experience ‘suffering and death that could be avoided,’ as well as additional economic damage, if states ignore federal guidelines, including delaying reopening of most businesses until they see dramatic declines in cases. He also said the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus is probably higher than the 80,000 reported to date.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Other Top Health Officials Emphasize Testing Before Easing Lockdowns, The Wall Street Journal, Thomas M. Burton and Stephanie Armour, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Top Trump administration health officials emphasized the need for caution and widespread testing while easing coronavirus lockdowns, warning in a Senate hearing that serious risks would continue into the fall as schools looked to reopen. ‘If certain areas prematurely open up, my concern is we might see spikes that turn into outbreaks,’ Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told senators on Tuesday. ‘The consequences could be serious. Even in states that reopen with a deliberate pace…there is no doubt that when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases reappear.'” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns reopening the country too fast could be ‘really serious’ for states. The warning from Fauci came as President Donald Trump pushes to quickly restart the economy in spite of a mounting death toll and few signs that the pandemic is subsiding. Politico, Adam Cancryn, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “The Trump administration’s top infectious disease expert testified Tuesday that the consequence of reopening the country too early could be ‘really serious’ if states don’t have the capability to respond to new coronavirus infections. The warning issued by Anthony Fauci offered a stark contrast to the case made in recent weeks by President Donald Trump, who has pushed to quickly restart the economy in spite of a mounting death toll and few signs that the monthslong pandemic is beginning to subside.” See also, Six takeaways from Anthony Fauci’s and other health officials’ testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 12 May 2020. See also, Trump Pointedly Criticizes Dr. Anthony Fauci for His Testimony to Congress, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, published on Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday criticized congressional testimony delivered a day earlier by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who had warned against reopening the country too quickly and stressed the unknown effects the coronavirus could have on children returning to school…. The president’s desire to reopen schools and businesses in order to bring back the economy has often led to public clashes over the guidance provided by Dr. Fauci, who has warned that taking a cavalier attitude toward reopening the country could invite unnecessary suffering caused by a virus scientists are still struggling to understand. He reiterated that position on Tuesday in testimony before a Senate committee. ‘He wants to play all sides of the equation,’ Mr. Trump said on Wednesday, before bragging that the economy next year would be ‘phenomenal.'” See also, ‘Not an acceptable answer’: Trump rebukes Dr. Anthony Fauci’s concern over reopening schools, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, published on Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Just one day after Anthony S. Fauci sparked frustration among prominent conservatives for urging a cautious approach to lifting restrictions and reopening schools amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, his critics found support from President Trump. In a public rebuke of his top coronavirus task force adviser, Trump criticized Fauci’s stance and wholeheartedly championed bringing students back to school on at least two separate occasions Wednesday — during an afternoon White House meeting and in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.”

House Democrats Unveil $3 Trillion Pandemic Relief Proposal. The proposal was immediately rejected by Senate Republicans, who called it too large and far-reaching. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a $3 trillion pandemic relief measure, an ambitious package with aid for struggling states and another round of direct payments to Americans that Republicans instantly dismissed as an exorbitantly priced and overreaching response to the coronavirus crisis. The proposal, which spanned 1,815 pages, would add a fifth installment to an already sweeping assistance effort from the federal government, although its cost totaled more than the four previous measures combined. And unlike those packages, which were the product of intense bipartisan negotiations among lawmakers and administration officials who agreed generally on the need for rapid and robust action, the House bill represents an opening gambit in what is likely to be a bracing fight over what is needed to counter the public health and economic tolls of the pandemic. It included nearly $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments and territories, an extension of unemployment benefits and another round of $1,200 direct payments to American families. The measure would also provide a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service — which the beleaguered agency has called a critical lifeline, but President Trump has opposed — and $3.6 billion to bolster election security.” See also, House Democrats introduce coronavirus rescue bill that would direct more than $3 trillion to states, individuals, and health systems. Republicans rejected the legislation even before seeing it, describing it as a liberal wish list. The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “House Democrats introduced a sprawling coronavirus rescue bill Tuesday that would direct more than $3 trillion to state and local governments, health systems and a range of other initiatives, setting up a huge clash with Senate Republicans and the White House over how to deal with the sputtering economy. The legislation also would send a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans and include more funding for the Postal Service. Not every component of the measure would include more government spending. Some parts would aim to address the coronavirus pandemic in other ways, such as by requiring passengers to wear masks on airplanes and public transit.”

As Hunger Spreads With Pandemic, Government Takes Timid Steps. The Trump administration has taken some steps to address spreading hunger during the economic crisis, but it has shied away from expanding programs that could provide more immediate relief. The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “As hunger spreads across a locked-down nation, the Trump administration has balked at the simplest ways to feed the hardest hit, through expanding school meals programs and food-stamp benefits and waiving work requirements as unemployment reaches record levels. Instead, the Department of Agriculture is focusing on giving states more flexibility to feed their citizens through regulatory waivers, many of which expire at the end of the month. Since the beginning of the pandemic, rates of household food insecurity have doubled and the rates of childhood food insecurity have quadrupled, according to the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.”

Vice President Mike Pence is ‘maintaining distance’ from Trump ‘for the immediate future,’ CNN Politics, Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Vice President Mike Pence is taking some precautions, but stopping short of the recommended self-quarantine in the wake of his press secretary testing positive for coronavirus. Pence is ‘maintaining distance for the immediate future’ from President Donald Trump after consulting with the White House medical unit, a senior administration official said. It is not yet clear exactly how long Pence will stay away from Trump.”

Supreme Court Hints at Split Decision in Two Cases on Obtaining Trump’s Financial Records. A majority of justices seemed skeptical of an effort by three House committees, but they seemed more sympathetic to the argument of the Manhattan district attorney. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “The Supreme Court heard more than three hours of arguments on Tuesday on the powers of the presidency and whether they protect President Trump from the prosecutors and House committees seeking to obtain troves of information about his business affairs. The court considered two sets of cases, and there was a strong possibility of a split decision. A majority of the justices appeared skeptical of Mr. Trump’s argument, in response to a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney, that he was absolutely immune from criminal investigation while he remained in office. But the court seemed more receptive to Mr. Trump’s argument that the three House committees had asked for too much information for reasons unrelated to their legislative responsibilities. Should the court order release of the president’s tax returns and other financial information in response to the House subpoenas, the records would almost certainly be made public and voters could consider them in deciding whether to re-elect him in November. The records may provide insight into Mr. Trump’s business practices, foreign entanglements and hush-money payments. But if the Manhattan prosecutors prevail, the records would not immediately be made public under the secrecy rules that apply to grand juries.” See also, Supreme Court debate over Trump’s tax returns and business records points to a mixed outcome, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Anne E. Marimow, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “The highly anticipated Supreme Court arguments Tuesday over President Trump’s efforts to block disclosure of his income tax returns and private financial records suggested the possibility of a mixed outcome. Moreover, several justices suggested there might be more work for lower courts to do, which could delay any turnover of the documents being sought by congressional Democrats and Manhattan’s district attorney until after November’s election. In more than three hours of teleconferenced hearings, broadcast to all who wanted to listen in, the justices debated presidential authority and accountability from all angles, and now they will meet in private to try to reach consensus. A few themes emerged. In general, the justices seemed more troubled by subpoenas issued by three House committees than with the ones coming from New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. None indicated they agreed with the assertion from Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow that the president enjoyed immunity from investigation while in office. There was no discussion of whether the court lacked authority to decide the merits of the dispute, even though the justices themselves had requested briefing on the subject.” See also, Supreme Court Hears Trump Lawyers’ Appeal to Stop Handover of Tax Documents, The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “President Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to quash congressional and criminal subpoenas seeking financial records from his bankers and accountants, as long-simmering controversies over Mr. Trump’s private business affairs came into focus ahead of the full blaze of the presidential campaign. Decisions in the cases are expected by summer. Losses for the president could force release of documents requested by Democratic-run House committees whose leaders could call further hearings, or prompt expanded criminal probes of his associates in New York. Wins would put that material out of investigators’ reach while Mr. Trump remains in office. A third scenario, in which the justices kick the cases back to the lower courts, would further delay resolution of the issues. The justices expressed concerns reaching beyond the Trump era, asking how their decision might shape presidential, legislative and law-enforcement powers far into the future.” See also, Trump Is Not Exempt, The New York Review of Books, David Cole, published on Saturday, 9 May 2020. See also, Momentous Choices for Supreme Court as It Hears Trump Financial Records Cases, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 12 May 2020: “The court ruled unanimously against Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton when they sought to withhold evidence. But the current court is unlikely to achieve consensus.”

Richard Grenell, the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Declassifies an Obama-Era Document Related to Trump’s Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Katie Benner, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “The nation’s intelligence chief has declassified an Obama-era document related to President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in a highly unusual move that prompted accusations that he was trying to discredit the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, declassified the document — a list of Obama administration officials who sought to learn the identities of Trump associates swept up in surveillance of foreign officials — and gave it to the Justice Department, officials said. The department does not intend to release it, a senior department official said, and Mr. Grenell’s office declined to a provide a copy. But Republican lawmakers could demand that Mr. Grenell’s office release the list. Mr. Grenell’s move came as Mr. Trump and his associates have in recent days intensified their efforts to change public perception about the Russia inquiry from a scandal involving Mr. Trump to one involving his predecessor. They argue that the Obama White House, the F.B.I. and the news media acted improperly as they sought to learn more about Mr. Flynn’s ties to Moscow.” See also, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell Declassifies Names of Obama Officials Who ‘Unmasked’ Michael Flynn, The Wall Street Journal, Alan Cullison and Aruna Viswanatha, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “President Trump’s top intelligence adviser has declassified and may release the names of Obama administration officials who requested the ‘unmasking’ of former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn, an action that identified him from intelligence reports following Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, a senior government official said. Release of the list, which would be an unprecedented move, is likely to resurrect a partisan debate over an episode that had roiled the early days of Mr. Trump’s presidency and has taken on renewed urgency after the Justice Department moved to drop a criminal case against Mr. Flynn last week. Mr. Flynn resigned within weeks of Mr. Trump’s 2017 inauguration, after reports emerged he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about phone calls he had with Russia’s ambassador to Washington shortly before taking office.”

Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan Hesitates to Accept Justice Department Move to Drop Michael Flynn Charge, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “A federal judge overseeing the criminal case of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn opened the door late Tuesday for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose the Justice Department’s motion to drop the case, suggesting he has at least some skepticism about the government’s argument that Mr. Flynn should never have been charged. In a brief order, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said he would set a schedule for outside parties to present arguments about the government’s request to dismiss the case. He did not directly address the Justice Department’s motion to drop the charge, but legal experts said he appeared open to considering not only the department’s arguments but also those who have challenged its move as politically motivated.” See also, U.S. judge puts Justice Department’s move to drop charges against Michael Flynn on hold, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Carol D. Leonnig, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “A U.S. judge put on hold the Justice Department’s move to drop charges against Michael Flynn, saying he expects independent groups and legal experts to argue against the bid to exonerate President Trump’s former national security adviser of lying to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said in an order Tuesday that he expects individuals and organizations will seek to intervene in the politically charged case. Having others weigh in could preface more aggressive steps that the federal judge in Washington could take, including — as many outside observers have called for — holding a hearing to consider what to do. Sullivan’s order came after the government took the highly irregular step Thursday of reversing its stance on upholding Flynn’s guilty plea.” See also, Judge Emmet Sullivan Appoints Outsider to Take on Justice Department in Flynn Case, The New York Times, Katie Benner, published on Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The federal judge overseeing the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge on Wednesday to oppose the Justice Department’s effort to drop the case and to explore a perjury charge against Mr. Flynn. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s appointment of the former judge, John Gleeson, was an extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.”

Trump promotes conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of murder, Politico, Quint Forgey, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Donald Trump on Tuesday explicitly suggested MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough had committed murder, prompting the morning cable news host to urge the president in real time to stop watching his program ‘for the sake of America.’ Following a segment on the network’s ‘Morning Joe’ talk show that featured discussion of upcoming Senate testimony by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, as well as critical comments from Scarborough regarding the White House’s coronavirus response, Trump lashed out in a tweet posted just before 7 a.m. ‘When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so,’ Trump wrote. ‘Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!’ Trump was apparently referring to the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, who worked as a staffer in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach, Fla., office when he served as a Republican House lawmaker from the state’s 1st Congressional District. Klausutis’ autopsy revealed she had an undiagnosed heart condition, and a coroner concluded she died after passing out and hitting her head in a fall, according to The Associated Press. She was not struck by another person, the coroner said, and Scarborough was in Washington at the time of her death.” See also, As coronavirus roils the nation, Trump reverts to tactic of accusing foes of felonies, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “On a day when coronavirus deaths passed 80,000 and top government scientists warned of the perils of loosening public health restrictions too soon, President Trump used his massive public platform to suggest a talk-show host he has clashed with committed murder. His baseless charge capped a 48-hour stretch in which he accused scores of political opponents of criminal acts ranging from illegal espionage to election rigging. Since writing ‘HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY’ at 8:10 a.m. on Sunday, Trump has used his Twitter account to make or elevate allegations of criminal conduct against no less than 20 individuals and organizations. Since Sunday, he has tweeted more often about alleged crimes by his perceived opponents than he has about the pandemic ravaging the country with mass death and unemployment.”

Trump presses immunity argument in Summer Zervos defamation case, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Lawyers for President Trump this week reiterated their argument that a defamation lawsuit from a woman who alleges Trump groped and kissed her without consent should be halted because the president is immune from lawsuits filed in state courts while serving in office. A new 28-page court brief, filed Monday and released publicly by the New York State Court of Appeals on Tuesday, is Trump’s latest salvo in a multi-front legal battle to limit the ability of private citizens, Congress and even law enforcement to investigate him as a sitting president. The release came on the same day that Trump’s lawyers argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that the president should be able to shield his tax returns and private business records from subpoenas issued by Democratic-led House congressional committees and the Manhattan district attorney. They argued the president should be immune from requests he believed were political attempts to harass.”

Jared Kushner, Law Aside, Doesn’t Rule Out Delaying 2020 Election, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 12 May 2020: “Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, refused on Tuesday to rule out postponing the presidential election in November, a comment that fed directly into Democratic concerns that President Trump might use the coronavirus crisis to delay or delegitimize the contest and one that contradicted Mr. Trump himself. ‘I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,’ Mr. Kushner told Time magazine in response to a question about whether the election could be postponed because of the pandemic. The opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held. Even the president himself does not have the authority to unilaterally postpone Election Day, which by law takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. But Mr. Kushner’s comment raised alarms both because of the expansive power Mr. Trump has conferred on members of his family who serve in his administration and because it played into the worst anxieties of Mr. Trump’s detractors — that the president would begin to question the validity of the election if he feared he was going to lose.”

 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020, Day 1,209:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 13 May 2020: Coronavirus ‘May Never Go Away,’ a Top World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Official Warns. Some countries are reinstating controls after backsliding. And a Canadian zoo may return its pandas to China, worried it can no longer find food for them. The New York Times, Wednesday, 13 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order. Trump pushes to reopen schools, and criticizes Dr. Fauci’s warnings about moving too quickly. The administration weighs extending some border restrictions indefinitely. The New York Times, Wednesday, 13 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 13 May: New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy Hints New Jersey Beaches may Open by Summer, With Limits, The New York Times, Wednesday, 13 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 13 May 2020: Stocks Fall as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Warns of Lasting Economic Damage, The New York Times, Wednesday, 13 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 13 May 2020: Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell issues stark warning about the U.S. economy, The Washington Post, Mark Berman, Brittany Shammas, Felicia Sonmez, Samantha Pell, Meryl Kornfield, Hannah Knowles, Colby Itkowitz, Teo Armus, John Wagner, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The Wisconsin state Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, ruling that the Democratic governor does not have authority to act without input from the legislature, even during a public health crisis. The 4-to-3 decision was written by four conservative judges on the court. More than 295,000 people have died worldwide from covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and around 83,000 of those have been reported in the United States. The number of confirmed cases in the United States is nearly 1.4 million.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

In a First, Renewable Energy Is Poised to Eclipse Coal in the U.S., The New York Times, Brad Plumer, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change. It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity. And it comes despite the Trump administration’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants. Those efforts, however, failed to halt the powerful economic forces that have led electric utilities to retire hundreds of aging coal plants since 2010 and run their remaining plants less frequently. The cost of building large wind farms has declined more than 40 percent in that time, while solar costs have dropped more than 80 percent. And the price of natural gas, a cleaner-burning alternative to coal, has fallen to historic lows as a result of the fracking boom. Now the coronavirus outbreak is pushing coal producers into their deepest crisis yet.”

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Warns the Economy May Need More as Congress Hesitates. Jerome H. Powell said the U.S. economy could be permanently damaged if Congress and the Trump administration don’t provide sufficient financial support. The New York Times, Jeanna Smialek, Jim Tankersley, and Emily Cochrane, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, delivered a stark warning on Wednesday that the United States was experiencing an economic hit ‘without modern precedent,’ one that could permanently damage the economy if Congress and the White House did not provide sufficient financial support to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and prolonged joblessness. Mr. Powell’s blunt diagnosis was the latest indication that the trillions of dollars that policymakers have already funneled into the economy may not be enough to forestall lasting damage from a virus that has already shuttered businesses and thrown more than 20 million people out of work.”

Coronavirus Testing Used by the White House Could Miss Infections, The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “A rapid coronavirus test used by the White House to screen its staff could miss infections up to 48 percent of the time, according to a study by researchers at N.Y.U. Langone Health. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, evaluated the accuracy of the test, Abbott ID Now, a machine about the size of a toaster oven that can yield results in five to 13 minutes. The product, which was given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in late March, has been enthusiastically promoted by President Trump — it was even used as a prop during at least one news conference. Mr. Trump has said the tests are ‘highly accurate.'”

Under Trump border rules, U.S. has granted refuge to just two people since late March, records show, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The Trump administration’s emergency coronavirus restrictions have shut the U.S. immigration system so tight that since March 21 just two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border have been allowed to stay, according to unpublished U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data obtained by The Washington Post. Citing the threat to public health from the coronavirus, the Trump administration has suspended most due-process rights for migrants, including children and asylum seekers, while ‘expelling’ more than 20,000 unauthorized border-crossers to Mexico under a provision of U.S. code known as Title 42.”

Trump Taps Ex-Glaxo Official Moncef Slaoui and General Gustave Perna to Lead the Effort to Develop a Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, Bloomberg, Jennifer Jacobs and Drew Armstrong, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “President Donald Trump plans to name Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s vaccines division, and Gustave Perna, a four-star U.S. general, to lead a Manhattan Project-style effort to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, two people familiar with the matter said. Slaoui, 60, and Perna will oversee the initiative known as Operation Warp Speed, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement expected later Wednesday. Slaoui will work on a volunteer basis. The Trump administration project seeks to produce 300 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year, hastening development by simultaneously testing many different candidates and beginning production before they’ve completed clinical trials.” See also, Trump Picks Ex-Drug Company Executive to Lead Accelerated Coronavirus Vaccine Effort. The chief operating officer will be an Army general who specializes in logistics. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

How to Make Sense of All the COVID-19 Projections? A New Model Combines Them. NPR, Nurith Aizenman and Sean McMinn, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “More than 82,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. How many more lives will be lost? Scientists have built dozens of computational models to answer that question. But the profusion of forecasts poses a challenge: The models use such a wide range of methodologies, formats and time frames that it’s hard to get even a ballpark sense of what the future has in store. Enter Nicholas Reich, a biostatistician at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Reich and his colleagues have developed a method to compare and ultimately to merge the diverse models of the disease’s progression into one ‘ensemble’ projection. The resulting forecast is sobering. By June 6, it projects, the cumulative death toll in the U.S. will reach 110,000.”

Republicans Release Names of Obama-Era Officials in ‘Unmaskings’ That Revealed Michael Flynn. The moves prompted accusations that Trump’s allies were disclosing the information for his political benefit. The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “Republican senators on Wednesday released the names of some Obama administration officials who made requests during the presidential transition to see fuller versions of classified intelligence reports, immediately prompting accusations that President Trump’s allies were wielding the information for his political benefit. The list compiles the names of officials who had inquired about the identity of an American in National Security Agency intelligence reports that initially concealed it, on those occasions when the masked name turned out to be that of Michael T. Flynn, then Mr. Trump’s incoming national security adviser.” See also, More Than a Dozen Obama Officials Requested ‘Unmasking’ That Identified Michael Flynn in Intelligence Reports, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and Dustin Volz, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “The National Security Agency received and approved requests on behalf of more than three dozen Obama administration officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, to ‘unmask’ a U.S. citizen mentioned in classified foreign intelligence reports during the presidential transition, revealing the identity of Michael Flynn. The requests were made between President Trump’s November 2016 election and inauguration in January 2017, according to a memo declassified by Mr. Trump’s new acting director of national intelligence and made public Wednesday by two Republican senators…. Procedures for unmasking are designed under the law that governs the covert surveillance of foreigners to allow officials to better understand classified intelligence reports where U.S. citizens’ names are typically redacted to protect their identity.”

Bill Priestap, Former Head of F.B.I. Counterintelligence, Is Said to Undercut the Justice Department’s Effort to Drop Michael Flynn Case, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “A key former F.B.I. official cast doubt on the Justice Department’s case for dropping a criminal charge against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn during an interview with investigators last week, according to people familiar with the investigation. Department officials reviewing the Flynn case interviewed Bill Priestap, the former head of F.B.I. counterintelligence, two days before making their extraordinary request to drop the case to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. They did not tell Judge Sullivan about Mr. Priestap’s interview. A Justice Department official said that they were in the process of writing up a report on the interview and that it would soon be filed with the court. The department’s motion referred to notes that Mr. Priestap wrote around the bureau’s 2017 questioning of Mr. Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during that interview. His lawyers said Mr. Priestap’s notes — recently uncovered during a review of the case — suggested that the F.B.I. was trying to entrap Mr. Flynn, and Attorney General William P. Barr said investigators were trying to ‘lay a perjury trap.’ That interpretation was wrong, Mr. Priestap told the prosecutors reviewing the case. He said that F.B.I. officials were trying to do the right thing in questioning Mr. Flynn and that he knew of no effort to set him up. Media reports about his notes misconstrued them, he said, according to the people familiar with the investigation. The department’s decision to exclude mention of Mr. Priestap’s interview in the motion could trouble Judge Sullivan, who signaled late on Tuesday that he was skeptical of the department’s arguments.”

FBI serves warrant on Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina in investigation of stock sales linked to coronavirus, Los Angeles Times, Del Quentin Wilber and Jennifer Haberkorn, Wednesday, 13 May 2020: “Federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to a prominent Republican senator on Wednesday night as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into controversial stock trades he made as the novel coronavirus first struck the U.S., a law enforcement official said. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, turned over his phone to agents after they served a search warrant on the lawmaker at his residence in the Washington area, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a law enforcement action. The seizure represents a significant escalation in the investigation into whether Burr violated a law preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information they have gleaned from their official work. To obtain a search warrant, federal agents and prosecutors must persuade a judge they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The law enforcement official said the Justice Department is examining Burr’s communications with his broker.” See also, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr Temporarily Steps Down as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee a Day After F.B.I. Agents Seized His Phone in Stock Sales Inquiry. The move is a major escalation in the investigation into the senator’s sale of stocks that came as President Trump and other Republicans were playing down the threat of the coronavirus. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos, published on Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina temporarily stepped down on Thursday as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a day after F.B.I. agents seized his cellphone as part of an investigation into whether he sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stocks using nonpublic information about the coronavirus. The seizure and an accompanying search for his electronic storage accounts, confirmed by an investigator briefed on the case, represented a significant escalation of the inquiry by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. They suggest that Mr. Burr, a Republican and one of the most influential members of Congress, may be in serious legal jeopardy…. Few figures on Capitol Hill have played higher-profile roles in recent years than Mr. Burr. A reliable conservative vote, he has nonetheless been the face of and driving force behind a three-year bipartisan intelligence committee investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. His insistence on seeing the investigation through and tough questioning of close associates of the president has piqued the White House at times, and relations between the president and the senator remain chilly.” See also, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is stepping aside as Intelligence Committee chair amid FBI investigation of senators’ stock sales, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Seung Min Kim, Spencer S. Hsu, and Katie Shepherd, published on Thursday, 14 May 2020: “A burgeoning insider trading investigation scrutinizing members of the U.S. Senate led the chairman of its Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, to step down Thursday after FBI agents seized his cellphone, seeking evidence related to stock sales he made before the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets…. Burr’s decision to surrender his role as chairman acknowledges the awkward, ethically fraught dynamic that would have existed if he had continued to lead a committee with oversight responsibilities for an agency conducting a criminal investigation of his conduct, and comes as he has fallen out of favor with President Trump and his allies over his handling of the committee’s sweeping, years-long investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump took aim at Burr a year ago, when the Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel testimony from the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. The move proved deeply frustrating for the president’s defenders as they sought to dismiss the bipartisan investigation as a politically motivated hit job. Burr also drew the disapproval of many Trump supporters over his cooperative, collegial relationship with Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. Trump has retweeted others’ criticism of Burr as recently as Monday.” See also, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr to Step Aside as Intelligence Panel Chairman While Facing Stock-Trade Investigation, The Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman and Andrew Duehren, published on Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Mr. Burr has played a prominent role atop the Intelligence Committee, leading the panel’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. While Mr. Burr will remain a member of the Intelligence Committee, a person familiar with the matter said, the vacancy at the head of the panel comes at a sensitive time. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Mr. Burr’s decision to step aside would go into place at the end of the day Friday. The panel is still completing its yearslong investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 race, with the fifth and final installment of its findings focused on the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia expected in the coming months. Robert Mueller didn’t conclude that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the election. But Mr. Mueller did find that the campaign welcomed Russia’s help. The investigation led by Mr. Burr has managed to win rare bipartisan support, and the committee has also examined a whistleblower report into Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.”

 

Thursday, 14 May 2020, Day 1,210:

 

Some Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 14 May 2020: Coronavirus Lockdown May Spur Surge in Mental Illness, U.N. Warns. Childhood disease may also soar as the pandemic claims millions of indirect victims by blocking access to medical care. The New York Times, Thursday, 14 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 14 May 2020: As Pandemic Wrecks Budgets, States Cut and Borrow to Balance Books. The White House threatens to veto a $3 trillion pandemic relief bill, and a study suggests that even talking can propel the droplets that spread the virus. The New York Times, Thursday, 14 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 14 May 2020: Five of New York’s 10 Regions Can Begin to Reopen on Friday. Construction, manufacturing and curbside retail businesses can start up again in upstate areas that have met seven criteria. The New York Times, Thursday, 14 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 14 May 2020: Wall Street Recovers After a Day of Turbulent Trading, The New York Times, Thursday, 14 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 14 May 2020: As U.S. death toll surpasses 85,000, vaccine expert Rick Bright warns of the ‘darkest winter in modern history,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman, Adam Taylor, Steven Goff, Kareem Copeland, Michael Brice-Saddler, Teo Armus, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The death toll from the novel coronavirus passed 85,000 in the United States on Thursday, and the number of confirmed covid-19 cases grew to more than 1.4 million. The U.S. has the largest number of reported cases and deaths in the world. Rick Bright, a former top U.S. vaccine official, and an executive of a medical mask manufacturing company testified before Congress on Thursday, saying they believe lives were lost because of missteps by the Trump administration in its early handling of the pandemic.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

‘Lives Were Lost’ as Warnings Went Unheeded, Whistle-Blower Dr. Rick Bright Tells House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The whistle-blower who was ousted as the head of a federal medical research agency charged on Thursday that top Trump administration officials failed to heed his early warnings to stock up on masks and other supplies to combat the coronavirus, and that Americans died as a result. ‘Lives were endangered, and I believe lives were lost,’ Dr. Rick Bright, who was removed in April as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, told a House subcommittee as he warned, ‘The window is closing to address this pandemic.’ Over nearly four hours of testimony, Dr. Bright told lawmakers that the outbreak would ‘get worse and be prolonged’ if the United States did not swiftly develop a national testing strategy. He also predicted vaccine shortages if the administration did not draft a distribution plan now. After holding back for nearly a month, President Trump; his health secretary, Alex M. Azar II; and his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, all hit back at Dr. Bright, in a three-pronged assault that elevated the confrontation. Mr. Trump dismissed Dr. Bright as a ‘disgruntled employee’ and Mr. Navarro, whom Mr. Bright considered an ally in the White House, called him a ‘deserter in the war on the China virus.’ Mr. Azar insisted officials followed through on the scientist’s ideas.” See also, Former top U.S. vaccine official Dr. Rick Bright testifies the U.S. still lacks a master plan amid pandemic, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “A former top U.S. vaccine official and an executive of a medical mask maker in Texas each told Congress on Thursday they believe lives were lost because of missteps by the Trump administration in its early handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Rick Bright, who filed a whistleblower complaint after he was removed from a senior post at the Department of Health and Human Services last month, said his superiors dismissed urgent warnings in January and early February about an impending shortage of N95 respirator masks. Bright also said the administration delayed potential work on a U.S.-made vaccine by not acting fast enough or forcefully enough to press China for samples of the virus. And Bright said his removal showcased how, generally, politics overtook science as President Trump took center stage in responding to the U.S. crisis.” See also, 3 takeaways from coronavirus whistleblower Rick Bright’s testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 14 May 2020.

Nearly Three Million New Unemployment Claims Brought the Two-Month Total to More Than 36 Million, With Some Still Frustrated in Seeking Benefits, The New York Times, Patricia Cohen and Tiffany Hsu, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Scattershot reopenings of retail stores, nail salons and restaurants around the country have not halted the flood of layoffs, with the government reporting Thursday that nearly three million people filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the two-month tally to more than 36 million. The weekly count of new claims has been declining since late March, but that hopeful flicker barely stands out in an otherwise grim and chaotic economic landscape.” See also, 3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, pushing eight-week total to 36.5 million, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Thursday, 14 May 2020. See also, Nearly Three Million Sought Jobless Benefits Last Week, The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Chaney and Gwynn Guilford, Thursday, 14 May 2020. See also, 36 Million Americans are now unemployed as another 3 million file for benefits, The Guardian, Dominic Rushe, Lauren Aratani, and Amanda Holpuch, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The terrible toll of the coronavirus pandemic on the US economy continued unabated last week as another 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits, and official figures showed 40% of low-earning families had now lost a breadwinner.” See also, As Unemployment Soars, Lawmakers Push to Cover Workers’ Wages. Progressive and conservative lawmakers are increasingly pushing for the government to guarantee workers’ incomes, signaling how profoundly the economic debate has shifted during the pandemic. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “One of the most progressive lawmakers in the House and one of the most conservative in the Senate, staring down a pandemic-driven unemployment rate at its highest level since the Great Depression, have come to the same conclusion: It’s time for the federal government to cover workers’ salaries. As Congress prepares to wage a new battle over how to best aid workers and businesses devastated by the coronavirus crisis, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri and a rising conservative star, are both making the case to their party’s leaders that guaranteed income programs should be part of the federal relief effort.”

After Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, crowds descend on bars. ‘We’re the Wild West,’ Governor Tony Evers says. The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “On Wednesday night in the heart of downtown Platteville, Wis., just hours after the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out the state’s stay-at-home order, Nick’s on 2nd was packed wall to wall, standing room only…. ‘We’re the Wild West,’ Evers told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Wednesday night, reacting to the state Supreme Court’s ruling and the scenes of people partying in bars all across Wisconsin. ‘There are no restrictions at all across the state of Wisconsin. … So at this point in time … there is nothing that’s compelling people to do anything other than having chaos here.’… With Evers’s statewide orders kaput, local health authorities scrambled to issue or extend citywide or countywide stay-at-home orders, creating a hodgepodge of rules and regulations all across the state that are bound to cause confusion, not to mention some traffic across county lines. It’s a situation unlike any in the United States as the pandemic rages on. But most of all, Evers feared that the court’s order would cause the one thing he was trying to prevent: more death.”

Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters, Bloomberg, David Welch, Thursday 14 May 2020: “Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The gathering, meant to advocate opening the state for business despite the coronavirus pandemic, followed one April 30 that resulted in pictures of protesters clad in military-style gear and carrying long guns crowding the statehouse. They confronted police and taunted lawmakers. The shutdown was done with little fanfare at the end of Wednesday’s State Senate session. About 4:30 p.m., lawmakers in the Republican-majority chamber simply adjourned until Tuesday rather than call the next previously scheduled meeting for Thursday morning at 10 a.m. The Michigan State Police are closing the buildings due to the coronavirus, said spokesman Lieutenant Brian Oleksyk.” See also, Heavily Armed Protesters Gather Again at Michigan Capitol to Decry Stay-at-Home Order, NPR, Abigail Censky, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Despite heavy rain, armed protesters gathered Thursday at the State Capitol in Michigan in what the organizing group, Michigan United for Liberty, has branded ‘judgment day.’ This was the third planned demonstration since Michigan has been under a stay-at-home-order from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Ahead of Thursday’s protest, comments were made in private Facebook groups threatening Whitmer and lawmakers with violence, according to reporting by the Detroit Metro Times. When asked about the threats in a Wednesday appearance on ABC’s The View Whitmer said, ‘I would be not truthful if I said it didn’t bother me. It certainly does.'”

Trump says coronavirus testing may be ‘overrated’ and the reason for the high U.S. case count, Politico, Myah Ward, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “President Donald Trump on Thursday said testing for coronavirus might be ‘overrated,’ revisiting his concern early in the outbreak that testing for the disease would raise the nation’s case count. After touring the medical supply distributor Owens and Minor in Allentown, Pa., the president — he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were the only members of the tour group not wearing masks — talked about his plans for expanding the Strategic National Stockpile and lauded his administration for its coronavirus response, including increased testing. ‘America has now conducted its 10 millionth test. That’s as of yesterday afternoon. Ten million tests we gave. Ten million,’ Trump said from a stage at the warehouse event, which had the trappings of a campaign-style rally. ‘And CVS has just committed to establish up to 1,000 new coronavirus testing sites by the end of this month, and the 10 millionth will go up very, very rapidly.’ And don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world,’ he added. ‘But why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.‘ Trump said the news media had refused to report his ‘common sense’ explanation for the country’s high case numbers. He repeated the misleading claim that the U.S. has tested more people than other countries, sidestepping the reality that testing as a share of the population is lower than in other countries.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Obama administration ‘did leave behind’ a pandemic plan, The Hill, Jordain Carney, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday walked back comments made earlier this week that the Obama administration didn’t leave behind a ‘game plan’ for a pandemic. ‘I was wrong,’ McConnell said when asked about his comments during a Fox News interview. ‘They did leave behind a plan. I clearly made a mistake in that regard,’ he said.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he was wrong on Obama pandemic playbook, Politico, Matthew Choi, Thursday, 14 May 2020.

CDC offers brief checklists to guide businesses, schools, and others on reopening, The Washington Post, Lenny Bernstein, William Wan, Josh Dawsey, and Holly Bailey, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “With hundreds of millions of people still seeking advice on resuming their lives safely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a scant six pages of recommendations Thursday to guide schools, businesses, day-care facilities and others into the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic. The six checklists — which also address restaurants, mass transit and camps — come days, and in some cases weeks, after many states have begun to lift restrictions on their own. The advice is less detailed than draft recommendations the agency sent to the White House for review last month. The nation is still awaiting that detailed technical guidance, which the White House has held up and not shared publicly. The delay has left the responsibility for decision-making about reopening to states and localities. It has also left many health experts clamoring for greater transparency.” See also, CDC releases scaled-back guidance on reopening after White House blocked earlier release, Politico, Rachel Roubein, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The CDC on Thursday released previously withheld guidance documents on reopening schools, restaurants and other institutions locked down during the pandemic, one week after the White House ordered the agency to revise an earlier draft it deemed ‘too prescriptive.’ The new CDC guidelines, which appear to be watered down from previously leaked versions, provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schools, workplacescamps, child care programsmass transit systems, and bars and restaurants.”

Federal Appeals Court in Virginia Allows Emoluments Suit Against Trump to Proceed, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “A federal appeals court in Virginia on Thursday revived a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from his Washington hotel, a decision that will most likely lead the Justice Department to appeal to the Supreme Court to keep the plaintiffs from gathering evidence in the case. ‘We recognize that the president is no ordinary petitioner, and we accord him great deference as the head of the executive branch,’ the majority opinion from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said. ‘But Congress and the Supreme Court have severely limited our ability to grant the extraordinary relief the president seeks.’ The 15-member appeals court in Richmond met in December to consider whether a three-judge appellate panel had wrongly dismissed the lawsuit over the Trump International Hotel brought by the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland. The local jurisdictions were about to begin evidence-gathering when the panel threw out the case.” See also, Federal Appeals Court in Virginia Revives Maryland and D.C. Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump. The ruling clears the way for attorneys general to begin gathering evidence about the president’s businesses. The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “A divided federal appeals court Thursday revived a lawsuit by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging President Trump is illegally profiting from his office. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with all active judges participating, ruled 9 to 6 that Mr. Trump hadn’t met the high legal requirements for obtaining dismissal of the case while it was still in its infancy at the trial-court level. The court said it recognized that the lawsuit made novel claims, but it said the president hadn’t made a ‘clear and indisputable’ showing that the lawsuit was so misguided that it had to be dismissed now.” See also, Federal Appeals court lets emoluments lawsuit against Trump proceed, CNN Politics, Kately Polantz and Devan Cole, Thursday, 14 May 2020.

Private jet company Clay Lacy Aviation founded by Trump donor Hershel Clay Lacy gets $27 million bailout, CNBC, Robert Frank, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “A private jet company founded by a donor to President Donald Trump received nearly $27 million in government funding under a program run by the Treasury Department, according to government filings. Clay Lacy Aviation, a private jet charter company based in Van Nuys, California, that serves wealthy executives and celebrities, received the government grant as part of the CARES Act, a $2 trillion federal stimulus package aimed at supporting jobs during the coronavirus crisis. The company appears to have received the largest grant of any private jet company on the list. The vast majority of the other 96 recipients of government funding or loans on the list are major commercial airlines, regional carriers or support companies. Other large private jet operators such as NetJets are not on the list.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) Opts Against Limits on Perchlorate, a Water Contaminant Tied to Fetal Damage. A new E.P.A. policy on perchlorate, which is used in rocket fuel, would revoke a 2011 finding that the chemical should be regulated. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The Trump administration will not impose any limits on perchlorate, a toxic chemical compound that contaminates water and has been linked to fetal and infant brain damage, according to two Environmental Protection Agency staff members familiar with the decision. The decision by Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the E.P.A., appears to defy a court order that required the agency to establish a safe drinking-water standard for the chemical by the end of June. The policy, which acknowledges that exposure to high levels of perchlorate can cause I.Q. damage but opts nevertheless not to limit it, could also set a precedent for the regulation of other chemicals, people familiar with the matter said. The chemical — which is used in rocket fuel, among other applications — has been under study for more than a decade, but because contamination is widespread, regulations have been difficult.”

Postal Service to review package delivery fees as Trump influence grows, The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Weeks before a Republican donor and top White House ally becomes postmaster general, the U.S. Postal Service has begun a review of its package delivery contracts and lost its second-highest executive, which will leave its board of governors without any officials who predate President Trump. The moves, confirmed by six people with knowledge of the Postal Service’s inner workings but not authorized to speak publicly, underscore how Trump is moving closer to reshaping an independent agency he has dubbed ‘a joke.'”

Senator Lindsey Graham shoots down Trump’s call for Obama testimony on origins of the Russia investigation. In recent days, Trump has mounted an aggressive campaign against his predecessor. Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday brushed back President Donald Trump’s pleas for the Judiciary Committee chairman to haul in former President Barack Obama for testimony about the origins of the Russia investigation and the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Michael Flynn. Just moments after Trump appealed directly to the South Carolina Republican on Twitter, Graham reiterated that he does not intend to call Obama before his committee — and he warned of the precedent such an action would set. ‘I don’t think now’s the time for me to do that. I don’t know if that’s even possible. I have grave concerns about the role of executive privilege and all kinds of issues,’ Graham said in a brief interview. ‘I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you wish for.'” See also, Senator Lindsey Graham rejects Trump’s call to summon Obama to testify on alleged ‘Obamagate’ conspiracy, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “President Trump on Thursday urged Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to call former president Barack Obama to testify about what Trump alleges without evidence was a conspiracy involving his predecessor — a prospect Graham promptly rejected. In recent days, Trump has sought to amplify an ‘Obamagate’ conspiracy theory that has taken root on the right that falsely suggests Obama and former vice president Joe Biden oversaw an effort to spy on Trump’s campaign to delegitimize his presidency. ‘If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING,’ Trump said in a tweet in which he urged Graham to ‘just do it.’ ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!’ the president wrote. Trump has called the alleged scandal ‘worse than Watergate’ and has kept up a drumbeat of accusations that Obama committed a crime, though he declined to offer specifics when asked to explain the extraordinary charges during a Rose Garden news conference Monday. Asked about Trump’s latest tweet on the issue, Graham told Politico that he has no intention of summoning Obama to Capitol Hill.”

Trump White House Rewrites History, This Time About Michael Flynn, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “After announcing that the Justice Department was dropping the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, Attorney General William P. Barr was presented with a crucial question: Was Mr. Flynn guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about the nature of phone calls he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States? After all, Mr. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying about them. ‘Well, you know, people sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes,’ Mr. Barr said in an interview with CBS News. Then he went even further and described the infamous calls during the Trump presidential transition as ‘laudable.’ Mr. Trump and his allies now accuse the F.B.I. of framing Mr. Flynn, which is part of the president’s broader campaign to tarnish the Russia investigation and settle scores against perceived enemies ahead of the November election. Their revisionist narrative is in stark contrast to the view held three years ago not only by top F.B.I. management but also by senior White House officials. Mr. Flynn, the officials said then, had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other aides about the nature of his calls to the ambassador, had lied repeatedly to F.B.I. agents about the calls, and might have made himself vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”

Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “The U.S. government has paid at least $970,000 to President Trump’s company since Trump took office — including payments for more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump’s hotels and clubs, according to federal records obtained by The Washington Post. Since March, The Post has catalogued an additional $340,000 in such payments. They were almost all related to trips taken by Trump, his family and his top officials. The government is not known to have paid for the rooms for Trump and his family members at his properties but it has paid for staffers and Secret Service agents to accompany the president. The payments create an unprecedented business relationship between the president’s private company and his government — which began in the first month of Trump’s presidency, and continued into this year, records show.”

The American Civil Liberties Union sues Betsy DeVos over new campus sexual assault rules. The suit says Title IX changes will make it ‘more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations.’ NBC News, Erik Ortiz, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ revised federal guidelines on how sexual assault allegations should be handled on college and K-12 campuses are the target of a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claiming that the changes would ‘inflict significant harm’ on victims and ‘dramatically undermine’ their civil rights. The suit, filed on behalf of four advocacy groups for people who have been sexually assaulted, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity, is the first that seeks to block the Education Department’s new provisions before they go into effect on Aug. 14.”

Biden on Assault Allegation: ‘I Wouldn’t Vote for Me if I Believed Tara Reade,’  The New York Times, Katie Glueck and Maggie Astor, Thursday, 14 May 2020: “Capping a day in which he appeared with two Democratic women in the running to be his vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday night that he did not remember Tara Reade, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, and said that Americans ‘probably shouldn’t vote for me’ if they believe the accusation, which he has strenuously denied. ‘I think they should vote their heart,’ he said on MSNBC, asked about his message to voters who had been inclined to support him but believed the Reade allegation. ‘ I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”

 

 

 

Throughout the day on Saturday, I’ll post stories that were published on Friday. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened rather than on speculation and prognostication, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I do include opinion pieces and analysis when I think they are appropriate.

Miller was frequently in contact with members of the press, and the White House is now making more coronavirus testing available to journalists, a White House official told CNN’s Jim Acosta